3-18-2019 Softball v Florida

LSU sophomore pitcher Shelbi Sunseri (27) waits to hit the ball during the Tigers’ 8-0 win over the Florida Gators on Sunday, March 17, 2019, at Tiger Park.

LSU softball kicked off its season with five wins in its first five games.

LSU softball defeated the Central Arkansas Bears 3-2, opening its season with a victory on a chilly, windy night in Tiger Park.

The air was so cold, in fact, that it took the Tigers some time to warm up.

They opened the second inning down one run. The Bears’ lead-off hitter slapped an infield dribbler over Preseason All-SEC pitcher Shelbi Sunseri’s head, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly.

In the second inning, Amanda Doyle hit a double into deep right, sending Akiya Thymes home from first. The Bears could have ended the inning, but a throwing error sent in another run.

A powerful Georgia Clark solo homer widened the LSU lead to two after Central Arkansas stranded two runners. The home run was the first of her career.

“I thought it was going to be a double off the wall,” Clark cracked. “I thought I’d have to run it out a little bit, so the wind helped us out tonight.”

Aliyah Andrews saved a run with a tough snag deep in center, and Taylor Pleasants slapped a double into the left-center gap, but was left in scoring position as the fourth inning concluded.

The Bears deployed aggressive base runners to cut into the lead. A runner stole second, but catcher Morgan Cummins thwarted her attempt to steal third. Cummins then stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded, but popped out to end the fifth inning.

The Tigers’ second error, this one by Pleasants, put a runner in scoring position. Two sacrifice flies brought the Central Arkansas runner home and the Bears within one run. LSU failed to build on its lead in the ensuing inning.

A line drive into left-center in the top of the seventh prompted Head Coach Beth Torina to pull Sunseri, replacing her with sophomore Ali Kilponen. Kilponen struck out two batters to close the inning, earning her first career save and preserve the LSU victory.

After the game, Kilponen said her top velocity reached 70 mph in the fall.

Sunseri faced 25 batters and struck out only one, allowing six hits and two runs.

LSU continued its early success over the weekend during the annual Tiger Classic. On Friday, the Tigers scored a 1-0 victory over Oklahoma State. LSU proceeded to sweep action on Saturday with a pair of wins over Florida A&M and Oklahoma State. Freshman Taylor Pleasants hit a walk-off home run in the seventh inning to defeat the Cowboys. The Tigers finished weekend play with a no hitter on Sunday against Florida A&M. Ali Kilponen, Taylor Edwards and Victoria Abrams combined for the no-hit performance.

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